A Love Affair In Ten Songs
It has been nearly twenty years since Elbow began playing together as a band and, even after two decades, they are still creating music that will excite any hardcore fan. On their newest release, Little Fictions, they add new instruments to their already specific sound and offer a fresh take on the falling-in-love narrative in music.
The record opens with the dreamy track “Magnificent (She Says).” With lead singer Guy Garvey’s Mancunian accent and the subtle addition of a string section, the listener enters the love-drenched world of Elbow. The opener is overflowing with metaphors and whimsical imagery like, “this is where the echoes swell to nothing on the tide / and where a tiny pair of hands / finds a sea worn piece of glass / and sets it as a sapphire in her mind.” Other tracks like “Gentle Storm” have the lead singer pleading to an unnamed character to fall in love with him. “Montparnasse” offers beautiful, sweeping imagery set to a piano playing softly in the background. One song, however, that differs from the rest is “Firebrand & Angel.” As the name suggests, there is a sort of apocalyptic undertone, which makes it a much darker song than the rest of the album. This, however, works well on the album as a whole, as it provides a brief reprieve from blissful songs about love.
Apart from the dreamy sound and occasional string section that Elbow employ, the one thing they do better than anything else is storytelling. In terms of the band’s message, it is a tried and true topic: that of love. What sets their lyrics and narrative apart from those of others is the way in which they are expressed. Garvey makes falling in love sound good again. Not that it sounded bad, but when so much music today continues to spew the same repetitive message about falling in love and the joys of that love, it is hard after a while not to find it flippant. Garvey, on the other hand, sounds so sincere when he sings things like, “I just don’t trust the sun to rise / when I can’t see your eyes / you’re my reason for breathing” on “Trust the Sun.”
With albums like Asleep in the Back and The Seldom Seen Kid, Elbow have done more than enough to prove themselves, but on Little Fictions they continue to explore their sound as a band and find new and compelling ways of expression.